Brazen copper thieves last week entered properties in rural Manawatū and cut down power lines to sell for scrap.

Attacks on its roadside network is not a new problem for Powerco but the electricity distributor is worried the latest thefts in the Kimbolton area have involved private properties.

Powerco's general manager of service delivery and system operations Ian Skipworth said there has been a spate of thefts on their network since May.

"This latest move is a concern. There is a real threat of electrocution for those cutting the wire but they are also endangering the safety of people living on the properties.

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"This week's incident involved service lines on a farm and when a farmer discovers the theft he has no idea if lines left dangling are live or not."

Skipworth said the thefts were planned and was the work of well-equipped people with knowledge of electricity systems.

"The police have been contacted but they suspect the thieves are selling the wire for scrap outside the areas they target, possibly even overseas.

"The thieves are looking to make a quick buck without any regard to public safety. We urge anyone who sees any suspicious activity to report it."

Powerco's first priority was to make its network safe after the thefts and police in the area are supporting Powerco's call for community help.

Manawatü area prevention manager Inspector Ross Grantham said it was important to identify the irresponsible and risk- taking thieves targeting power lines for scrap metal.

"Not only does cutting power to rural properties put thieves and property owners at risk when wires are left dangling, it also creates risks when power might be required for medical support or farm productivity.

"Police are also keen to identify the scrap metal merchants buying this stolen material.

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"Dealers buying this scrap are creating the market for stolen material and are just as responsible as the thieves.

"Our message to merchants is to be vigilant, and if you have concerns over people offering to sell the material then decline the business and contact police."

People should call Powerco on 0800 769372, contact Police on 105, or report anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.